Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways.

Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."

Throughout his career, Vedantam has been recognized with many journalism honors including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the American Public Health Association.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-2004 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship, and the 2002-2003 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

Vedantam is the author of the non-fiction book, The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. The book, published in 2010, described how unconscious biases influence people.

Outside of journalism, Vedantam has written fiction and plays. His short story-collection, The Ghosts of Kashmir, was published in 2005. The previous year, the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia produced his full-length, comedy play, Tom, Dick and Harriet.

Vedantam has served as a lecturer at many academic institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University. In 2010, he completed a two year-term as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Since 2006, he has served on the advisory board of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships in Science & Religion.


Shots - Health Blog
5:16 am
Mon December 5, 2011

What's Behind A Temper Tantrum? Scientists Deconstruct The Screams

Originally published on Thu December 8, 2011 8:46 am

Children's temper tantrums are widely seen as many things: the cause of profound helplessness among parents; a source of dread for airline passengers stuck next to a young family; a nightmare for teachers. But until recently, they had not been considered a legitimate subject for science.

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The Salt
12:01 am
Tue October 4, 2011

Eating Meals With Men May Mean Eating Less

It turns out that the gender of your dining companions makes a big difference in what you eat and how much you eat. The new research on dining habits — although small — adds a new dimension to the study of risk factors for obesity, and could also shed new light on eating disorders such as anorexia.

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Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast
5:57 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

To Dodge Blame, Officials Prepare Public For Worst

In preparing the public for a disaster, officials want to make the right call, but they also want to avoid blame.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 1, 2011 3:59 am

Four days after Hurricane Irene struck, some people think the government over-reacted, and others feel not enough was done. People's points of view on the matter are likely highly influenced by how much, or how little, damage they experienced during the storm.

That's utterly human, but new psychological research suggests this way of judging things has a perverse effect on policymakers trying to keep us safe.

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10:01 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Under Pressure, Soccer Goalies Tend To Dive Right

Team USA's Goalkeeper Hope Solo fails to save Japan's defender Saki Kumagai's goal during the FIFA Women's Football World Cup final match Japan vs. USA on July 17, in Germany. Japan won 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the final finished 2-2 in extra-time.
John MacDougall AFP/Getty Images

The Japanese women's soccer team stunned the United States a few weeks ago. After a tense match where Team America seemed to have the upper hand throughout, Japan leveled the game with a late equalizer and then went on to win a penalty shoot-out.

New psychological research suggests that soccer goalkeepers and teams aren't only affected by the high stakes pressure of a penalty shoot-out. Without their awareness, goalkeepers also appear to be biased to dive to the right in some situations.

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The Two-Way
7:29 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Political Negotiations Also Shaped By Human Psychology

We all know congressional negotiators are trying to balance party and ideology, principle and pragmatism. But negotiators are people, too, and psychology has some useful things to say about the ongoing debt-ceiling standoff. Here are some key ideas to keep in mind.

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